Pestilence – Spheres (1993)
From Thrash Metal (Malleus Maleficarum) to Death Metal (Consuming Impulse) to Progressive Death Metal (Testimony Of The Ancients) to Spheres; an album so eclectic it fits all previous descriptions and throws some Jazz-Fusion into the mix to create a spacey, avant-garde, Progessive Metal masterpiece. It may have split fans straight down the middle at the time but there’s no escaping its timeless appeal today.
Easing fans gently into ever challenging terrain, Spheres is cannily front-loaded with Death Metal indebted tracks designed to appeal to the fanbase before unleashing the triumvirate of “Personal Energy“, “Voices From Within” and “Spheres”; songs that barely register as Death Metal and thrilling examples of a band tapping into otherworldly influences. Unequaled.
Cynic – Focus (1993)
Cynic may have emerged from the murky swamps of late ‘1980s Floridian Death Metal scene but to compare their progressively minded excursions into unexplored realms, to the bludgeoning of gore-hounds Cannibal Corpse and religion-baiting Deicide, is akin to comparing caviar to rice pudding!
Wildly experimental, Cynic inadvertently followed a similar path to Holland’s Pestilence and crafted a Death Metal take on Jazz-fusion (Focus was released just 4 months after Pestilence’s Spheres), eschewing the brutality of old-school Death Metal in favour of complex rhythms, moments of ambient calm and synthesised vocals to accompany the de rigueur guttural growls. It was Death Metal but not as we knew it.
Focus still sounds utterly unique to this day, a sound few bands would dare to emulate in the intervening years, and this once in a lifetime convergence of such talent and tenacity leaves Focus standing tall as one of Progressive Metal’s finest moments.